Presbyterians Deliver Comfort in Response to a Night of Terror
June 1, 2016
The piercing sound of sirens filled the night sky that was bright with an eerie orange glow. Hot embers cooled and turned to ash as they floated through the air, covering the ground like snowflakes—a strange sight for mid-August 2015 in the town of Kamiah, Idaho, where a wildfire was encroaching on area homes. Responding to a frantic knock at the door, a pastor greeted a young couple with their two small boys and two large dogs in tow, a look of terror and worry etched on their faces. They had been ordered to evacuate their home. Wind gusts were spreading the fire, which had resulted from lightning strikes several days earlier. The couple did not know where to go or what to do, so they went to their church. Within minutes other church members began arriving with similar stories.
Kamiah was surrounded by fire. All roads in and out were closed except one. Luann Howard, longtime pastor of the Kamiah and Kooskia Presbyterian Churches, decided to get the dozen refugees to the church in the nearby town, setting it up as an emergency evacuation center. Daylight brought news of unimaginable devastation and loss for the community. In all, 73 primary homes and 150 outbuildings were destroyed. The young exiled family returned to find that their home and belongings were gone, as well as several pets they had left behind.
Within a matter of hours, with fires still raging and the air heavy with smoke, the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest responded with donations of food, water and supplies personally delivered by the executive presbyter and others with the good news that Presbyterian Disaster Assistance representatives were on their way. What a comfort to have such prompt, wonderful and ongoing support!
Rev. Luann Howard, Kamiah and Kooskia Presbyterian Churches
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PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray
After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well. (Luke 7:1–10, ESV)